Griffin says Maidenhead United and league rivals must carry on as best they can

Photo by Darren Woolley

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Maidenhead United have been impacted by COVID-19 more than most clubs this season, but chairman Peter Griffin believes they and other clubs must carry on to the best of their abilities to see the season through to its conclusion.

The Magpies have played just three times in the league since the end of November and discovered four of their players had contracted COVID on the morning of their 4-0 defeat to Solihull Moors on December 11. They were told to ‘carry on’ by the National League and then had to withdraw from the FA Trophy the following week due to the ongoing situation, Maidstone United receiving a bye into the fourth round. On that occasion the FA told chairman Peter Griffin to ‘sign more players’.

Half of the Magpies’ squad has had COVID at some stage of the season and some have experienced complications on their return to training and matches.

Their non-COVID related injury list has also been one of the worst Griffin can remember but, he’s keen to follow the league’s advice and press on with matches, starting with the crucial Boxing Day clash at potential relegation rivals Wealdstone FC.

“I think we do have to carry on because there are protocols in place and it’s reasonable to stick to those,” he said. “We’ve been in a position where we haven’t been able to fulfil fixtures and these have been postponed, or as was the case in the Trophy, we’ve had to withdraw.

“If we decide to have a break, my point is what is the end point? When would we come out of it? It could be that in February and March there’s still high cases and there’s a danger it (the season) could become stop-start.

“I think we have to carry on as best we can. Unfortunately, Wrexham have had it announced that from Boxing Day they’ll have to play matches behind closed doors and that is a Welsh government decision.

“That’s horrible for us to contemplate, but it may go that way. At the moment, though, we’re very hopeful things will carry on because I do think non-league football is one of the safer places for people to be.

“You can be socially distanced, even with a good crowd of 1,500 and can find lots of space. Most grounds in this division, except for one or two, will be similar.”

So far, the club has had no direct communication from the league as to the potential COVID measures that could be brought back in, and, while it’s been a rough period for the club, Griffin says they’ve just got to tough it out and hope for better luck on the COVID and injury front in the coming weeks.

“No, there’s been no communication from the league, it’s carry on as it is,” said Griffin. “We’ve had conversations with them regarding our matches. On the day of the Solihull game, when we had four players withdraw after contracting the virus, we asked the question if we should play or not and we were told to carry on. The FA then wouldn’t let us postpone the Trophy game; their advice was to sign some more players.

“They’re adopting a position where clubs should carry on if they can, and I’m not critical of that, they’ve got to try and keep things going. We’re preparing for our Boxing Day game at Wealdstone and then our home fixtures, but it has been a rough period and over half the squad has now had COVID with the latest flurry of positive results.

“It is tough, and some of the players are coming back feeling not as sharp as they were.

“It does take it out of you and there are different aftereffects, it’s not great. It’s been tough but we’ve just got to carry on.”

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